Criticizing Wicca: Magic is Unreliable

[This is part of a long series looking at atheism and Wicca.] Any procedure for changing an initial situation (the start) into a desired situation (the goal) can be tested for its effectiveness.   As used here, effectiveness is a matter of degree, so that procedures can be more or less effective.  The simplest way to measure [Read More...]

Criticizing Wicca: Magic

[Magic is a pseudo-technology based on the pseudo-science of mysterious energy.  It’s purpose is to provide the illusion of control.  This post briefly describes how some Wiccans conceive of magic.  Many Wiccans reject the use of magic altogether, or consider it entirely independent of Wicca.  Thus the two should not be confused.  After this brief [Read More...]

The Illusion of Control

[Much of the content and practice of religion is based on regulating (arousing, maintaining, and inhibiting) the illusion of control.  This illusion is briefly described here.  The neural basis of this illusion is clearly exposed in Wiccan texts.  The illusion of control is said to be an adaptive illusion with personal and prosocial benefits.  The [Read More...]

Spiritual Exercises for Atheists

Spiritual exercises (askesis) are practical activities for mental self-empowerment.  They are intended to facilitate successful achievement by increasing the degree to which the self is mentally or emotionally prepared to perform.  Spiritual exercises are not magic.  Spiritual exercises are distinct from magic because they focus on causing changes in the self while magic focuses on [Read More...]

Revelation versus Manifestation

This is a guest post by Eric Steinhart, Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University. The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are religions of revelation.  As is well-known, these religions are derived from the experiences of religiously privileged individuals (prophets, messiahs, inspired writers) to whom it is alleged that God spoke.  These religions say [Read More...]

The Increasing Prevalence of Woo

This is a guest post by Eric Steinhart, Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted a survey which reports on the percentages of belief among respondents.  The survey is statistically sound and thus indicates that similar percentages hold in the American public.  The percentages are: 24% [Read More...]

Criticizing Wicca: Rationality

This is a guest post by Eric Steinhart, Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University. According to the Farrars, “Witches [that is, Wiccans] are neither fools, escapist nor superstitious.  They are living in the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages” (1981: 105).  The Farrars write that “Many witches are scientists and technicians . . . [Read More...]

Christopher Hitchens and Freethinking Parenting At Its Best

One of our last, and by far the most touching, videos we have of Christopher Hitchens comes from the Texas Freethought Convention this past October. Watching him with the charmingly and precociously smart little girl in the video, he is downright grandfatherly: Mason was interviewed afterward: Why did you decide it was important to ask [Read More...]

Criticizing Wicca: Levels

This is a guest post by Eric Steinhart, Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University. Some statements are based on evidence, while others are not.  And there is evidence for the existence of some entity if and only if the existence of that entity is asserted in a statement that is based on evidence.  To [Read More...]


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